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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Cupcakes!

While up in Big Bear, a neighbor friend of my dad's was celebrating a birthday.  Her husband made a Mexican feast of carne asada, refried beans, rice and sweet delicious peppers sauteed with a little oil and Worcestershire sauce (not sure how "Mexican" that is, but they were delicious!) and invited a few of us over to eat.  To help round out the meal, I offered to bring dessert.  I thought cupcakes would be festive and fun so I went to my "go to" baking cookbook (online) - the Joy of Baking - and found an easy sweet recipe for vanilla cupcakes.  They came out great!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Butter cream Frosting (from
Vanilla Cupcakes:
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin)
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Butter cream Frosting:
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or light cream

Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. If you want flat topped cupcakes then slice off the dome of each cupcake, with a sharp knife, before frosting. If you want to pipe the frosting, I like to use a large Wilton 1M star decorating tip.

For the Frosting: In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. Tint the frosting with desired food color (I use the paste food coloring that is available at cake decorating stores and party stores).

Makes about 12 cupcakes
I didn't use the lemon rind because we didn't have any lemons in the house.  Also, after making the butter cream, I thought the cupcakes looked a little too...plain.  Too white on white.  I am not a fan of using food coloring, so I looked around to see what I could add to the icing to make them a little more festive.  I separated the butter cream into two bowls. We had a bowl full of peaches fresh from a friend's tree so I peeled a few of those and added the crushed fruit and juice to half a bowl of the butter cream.  In the other bowl, I added chocolate powder.  The chocolate butter cream was really delicious and super sweet.  The peach butter cream was more of a chunky peach glaze that was really amazing.  Those went quicker than the chocolate, but I am happy to say all twelve cupcakes were eaten pretty quickly.

Do you have a favorite birthday cake recipe?  What do you like to bring to a birthday party?  Feel free to share here!

Chow for Now!  :)

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